I know I’m late to the party but welcome to the New Year! This is my first blog post of 2015 and so many things have already happened in the infancy of this New Year that I would love to discuss. But, alas, there is a short quote from the editorial board of the New York Times that has rattled around in my brain for the last couple of weeks and refuses to quiet down until I share it with you.
On January 13, 2015, the editorial board of the New York Times published an article titled “God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department.” As you can probably guess, it was about the firing of Kelvin Cochran, now the former Atlanta fire department chief, for his biblical views on homosexuality. Just in case you missed it, Mr. Cochran was essentially fired for writing and publishing a book called Who Told You That You Were Naked? and for giving it to three city employees he believed to be Christians. In his book, he identifies homosexuality as a sin but also makes it exceedingly clear that all of us are sinners in need of the covering only Christ can provide. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he dismissed Mr. Cochran for what he called poor judgment and to make sure that anyone who worked in the government could do their job free of the fear of being discriminated against (Like the way Mr. Cochran was discriminated against?).
Predictably, the editors are in full support of Mr. Cochran’s firing and make it crystal clear they do not accept any definition of religious liberty that would protect Mr. Cochran. Not only do they whole-heartedly endorse Mayor Reed’s decision and the reasoning behind it, they go on to make this astonishing statement:
It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard.*Wait, what!? It doesn’t matter that he never actually mistreated gays or lesbians, just adhering to the belief that homosexuality is a sin is enough to justify and even celebrate his firing! Not only that, when the editors say a public servant must be held to a higher standard (an arbitrary statement—exactly whose standard?) they are strongly insinuating that anyone who desires to serve in public service had better keep these kinds of beliefs to themselves or risk termination. This has an eerily close resemblance to the Orwellian “Thought Police” of 1984.
In a sense they are saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up!” What’s actually happening is their secular humanistic worldview is telling them how to understand reality. You see, the facts don’t matter to the editors because in their minds Mr. Cochran stands condemned already for having the wrong worldview; namely, not theirs.
The editors of this article represent to me the larger secular culture that is progressively dominating more of the American (and Western) mind. Thus I return to the question that titles this blog: Do we know who we are dealing with? Do we understand that the cultural battlefield we are on is resoundingly a conflict of different worldviews? That in recent generations there has been a seismic shift in our culture from God’s Word as our foundation to man’s word. And that the culture we are engaging and the leaders of this moral revolution that is occurring with unprecedented velocity are at bitter odds with those of us who stand on God’s Word as our authority.
If we want to be effective in spreading the gospel and the kingdom of God in our culture today, it is incumbent upon us to understand with whom we are dealing and the foundational nature of the fight. So what do we do? Well, this is truly what the ministry of AiG is all about. Equipping the church and Christians to stand boldly on the Word of God, answering the skeptical questions of this age, and sharing the gospel with effectiveness in this secular culture. As far as what this looks like practically, that will be the focus of my four sessions at the upcoming Children’s Ministry Expo in St. Louis on Friday, February 6. If you can make it, I would love to see you there! But if not, don’t fret; the answer to that question will be subject of my next blog. Until then.
For an audience of One,
* The Editorial Board, “God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department,” The New York Times, January 13, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/opinion/god-gays-and-the-atlanta-fire-department.html.